By Sohail Khan, IACO Electing Authority for the Islam Faith and Former Council Member
My association with the Interfaith Association of Central Ohio (IACO) goes back to 90s. I worked with Rev. Dr. Leslie Stansbery and Dr. Mazhar Jalil on many interfaith projects. In 2015 I officially joined IACO Council representing my faith Islam. Presently, in addition to serving as the Electing Authority for the Islamic faith, I am serving as Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of Islamic Foundation of Central Ohio, Chairperson of the Board of Education Sunrise Academy, and Chairperson of Islamic Council of Ohio.
Islam is seen by its followers as a way of life. It is a faith that strives to guide an individual on how to deal with life and all aspects of life, including the easy and difficult times, the low stress and high stress periods, and the explainable and unexplainable times. It does this by outlining rules and regulations for its followers and instilling a sense of accountability to God, and an understanding of the justness, love, mercy, and Wisdom of God. It places humans in high regard and aims to maintain human dignity in all practices and highlights that life is seen as not only a sacred trust given to an individual by God, but also as a test to see how a person lives their life and deals with certain situations.
“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits (of your hard work) but give good tidings to the patient, Who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.” Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided.” (The Quran 2:155-156)
Islam is not a new religion but the same truth that God (Allah) revealed through all His prophets to every people. Islam is an Arabic word means ‘submition’ derives from a word meaning ‘peace’. It is a religion of peace, mercy, and forgiveness. Muslims believe in One, Unique, Incomparable God, in Angels created by Him; in the prophets through whom His revelations were brought to mankind, in the Day of Judgement and individual accountability for actions; in God's complete authority over human destiny and in life after death. Muslims believe in a chain of prophets starting from Adam to Muhammad including Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, peace be upon them. God's final message, summing-up of all that has gone before was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad through Angel Gabriel. The Quran is a record of the exact words revealed by God consisting of 114 chapters (Suras). Not one word has been changed over the centuries. It deals with all the subjects: wisdom, doctrine, worship, and law, but its basic theme is the relationship between God and His creatures. At the same time, it provides guidelines for a just society, proper human conduct, and an equitable economic system. The family is the foundation of Islamic society. Islam is a religion for all people from whatever race or background they might be. The sense of brotherhood and sisterhood was so much emphasized that it overcome all local attachment to a particular tribe, race, or language.
“O mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly, the most honored of you in God’s sight is the greatest of you in piety. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware’. (The Quran 49:13)